Last night I attended the concert of an artist A had introduced me to early in our friendship. He was the king of buying full albums based on a single song he'd hear on KFOG, only to find that he'd heard the sole good song on the record, and while he shared her with me, he confessed that she hadn't quite grown on him yet. I think his complaint was that she was a little countrified for him.
I was instantly smitten by her music, though, and quickly got the rest of her albums. I remember being in Akron, Ohio, sitting in a hotel room that had been fashioned out of an old grain silo, listening to her album and being inspired to write a song of my own. I don't play the song out anymore; it's not that good, but she truly was an inspiration to me. My interest in her piqued A's, and he grew to like her upon subsequent listenings.
I was really excited when I found out she was coming to town, and though I was buying tickets three days after sales opened, I was the first person to buy any, and I couldn't have asked for better: front row, first two seats of the center row. I didn't know who was going to go with me, but I am always prepared to go alone if need be, and I wasn't going to miss this show. Even as I bought the tickets, I thought of A, and how he would've enjoyed seeing her, or been satisfyingly jealous of my going. That's how it was with us; he saw tons of great shows by virtue of being in the Bay Area; the whole world came there. Pickings are slightly slimmer here in the desert, and I complained of how musically spoiled he was; he responded that it was my fault for living in the boonies.
God, how I loved that man. Love him still.
My mom ended up being my date for the show; we were two of a relatively small crowd. When the artist finally took the stage, though, I was unprepared for the waves of emotion that washed over me as she entered and began playing. I love her music, but I don't know that it's ever had a visceral effect on me. But this time, it did, and I felt like I was going to cry, my heart and soul full to brimming. I don't know what it was, though I suspect it was that all the disparate connections between her, him, and me came together when her fingers touched the guitar strings. It kept happening through the first few songs, and then I guess it passed. By the time she played the cover that was important to us (and that I wouldn't have expected to hear, but really hoped I would), I was just giddy and grateful. I clapped really fast when I heard the opening chords, like a big dork, an especially noticeable dork considering the small, quiet crowd and the fact that I was front and center. But it was a gift, and I appreciated it.
As time has passed, I have relinquished the fear that I would forget, that somehow he would fade for me as the result of his persistent absence. Even so, I am still surprised at how meaningful pieces of our life together converge sometimes, overwhelming me with a sum so much greater than its parts. It is breathtakingly poignant, but comforting, too, in that I know I am really not alone, that he is still out there, that love remains our unbreakable bond. I miss him so much, but in moments like those last night, I can almost imagine him holding me up, my entire life wrapped in his love, almost a tangible thing. Almost.